Posts tagged “Ruinart

Liberty Private Works – Hurry before he becomes the next big thing

Update:

I had an email from LPW to confirm that the kitchen will continue to operate after the Exchange Square restaurant/bar opens.  Thank the lord.

Review:

A complete stranger felt compelled to tell me about the fabulous meal he’d had at a new chef’s table back in September 09. I was at a gallery preview of some rather self-indulgent black and white, semi-porno photograhs and this chap was the most interesting thing about the whole affair.

Unfortunately I was about to go deep field for a few months and so have only just had the opportunity to go to Liberty Private Works.  And thank the lord I did!  Renovation work is already underway in a space in Exchange Square and chef Makoto Ono is not sure whether he’s going to be able to keep Liberty operating as well as the new mega-resto.

On to the experience:

Food:  Set menu, which suits me perfectly.  I’m a busy, harassed bee and have to make far to many decisions every day already, so the mental overload that occurs when I have to then tackle the choosing of what I want to shove down my gullet sometimes diminishes the whole experience of enjoying my food.  I’d much prefer to leave it in the capable hands of a trained master, and believe me, Makoto Ono is that.

Unpretentious, well-executed, super-tasty, pleasingly surprising, playful food. He looks proper pleased when you like his food, when you appreciate his taste and texture combos. The guy and his team are genuinely and seriously good.

What did we have? Home-cured gravlax, plumptious scallops, beautiful beef, local sea bass, asparagus, fruit compote, tomato jelly, all sorts, and all beautifully balanced.

Drink:  Doesn’t get better than this. They do have a wine-list and bar, but you can bring your own wine and don’t have to pay corkage!  Bloomin’ marvelous.

As it was gorgeous boy’s birthday, I snaffled a bottle of Ruinart Rose champagne (HK$498 and maybe the best widely available punk out there folks) and a wonderfully good value Torbreck Woodcutters 2006 Shiraz (HK$288) into the restaurant earlier in the day – some of his favourite vinos and perfect choices for an eclectic 6 course meal.

My wonderful Coutt’s concierge had these put by at Rare&Fine Wines on the edge of Queen’s Road West, so I just swooped in, was strong-armed (!@*&?) into a swift tasting of some lovely New Zealand wines and then barreled off down the road to deposit them at LPW pre-meal, with boyf none the wiser. Brilliant party trick that. Many brownie points garnered and lovely to get one over on “He-Who-Usually-Stores-Surprises-Up-His-Sleeve”.

BTW – I do highly recommend Rare&Fine Wines – check em out.

Ambience & Service: Usually I would review these two aspects separately, but because the only people you interact with are the team of Makato Ono and his sidekicks Albert and Claire, I have to consider them together. Liberty Private Works is super small and intimate. The space is maybe 400 sq-ft in total. That’s it: 14 bar stools, bar area/kitchen, team of 3 chefs and a blackboard.

The chefs are respectful, sweet, attentive, easy-going, bloody talented, happy to chat and tell you exactly what you’re getting. Makoto even started doing the washing up whilst waiting for the actual washer-uppers to arrive – and I don’t think he was indicating that it was time for us to leave, I think he just has pride in his kitchen and isn’t worried about getting stuck in.

Just a really chilled, welcoming, happy atmosphere of people making good food and other people enjoying that food. We were a real mixed bunched that evening. Me and the boy, another HK couple, a gweilo/HK business foursome, and an HK/mainland business six-some. Nice.

Hope I’m not boring you with the gushing praise…Anyhow, more good news to come.

Cost: $620 per person. Jeez, you could go to most outlets in So-Lo and spend that on three courses. I would have paid double. Couple that with the $0 corkage and it’s worth the 3 storey climb.

Location: 3F, 12 Wellington Street, Central, Hong Kong. (Opp California Fitness). Tel +852 5186 3282. email: info@libertypw.com

Liberty’s future is uncertain my dear readers.  The night we went Ono-sama told us that they’d swung the first sledgehammer of the renovation of Aria.  Yes, this chef who left Beijing because our Northern Friends still aren’t quite able to let go of historical umbrage and shunned his Japanese restaurant (woop woop HK’s gain), has the backing to take over a large, prime piece of banker/lawyer territory in Exchange Square.  And, whilst I agree that this town could do with a restaurant that crafts its French onion soup over an 8 hour period, and that knows how to produce a decent Caesar salad (both stated aims), I can’t help crying into my bubbly and raising my hands and eyes to the sky in exhortation that this surely isn’t the only ambition of the man? In Hong Kong. At the moment. Ono is one seriously hot property.

Readers: Dine with him before he hits the big time and you potentially lose him to soup and salad.

Makato Ono: Do not sit back and drown in a vat of HK mediocrity: let the 5* hotels concentrate on comfort food. You sir, need to keep pushing the envelope.

M1NT, Hong Kong – like it despite myself.

Despite myself, I like M1NT – I abhor Dragon-i (except for dim sum)and all these other velvet rope clubs.  M1NT’s always laid back early on, with a really chilled vibe.

During the week people come here to chat, so they keep the music low til 11pm and folks just get on and do their thing, there’s no preening or flirting or ostentation, it’s actually really pleasant.

The biggest bee in my bonnet about HK bars is that I can’t hear myself think, let alone talk, and I get more and more uncomfortable and frustrated the louder and busier bars get. That’s probably why I like M1NT over other places.

Post 11pm, it gets louder, drunk and boisterous people arrive and a lot of the time the tunes really are mid 90s (but that’s my era, so I don’t care), but it’s always still a nice vibe.  There’s usually room to move, daft idiots to watch on the dance-floor, the service is really good, the waitresses are lovely and the bartenders are shit hot, plus they serve my favourite champagne – Ruinart Blanc de Blanc.

I’m just hoping that the main Chihuahua stays away from Hong Kong and doesn’t meddle so that this agreeable hiatus can continue indefinitely.

Location: 108 Hollywood Road, Central. Tel: 2980 3737

Bo Innovation – unique in Hong Kong

Review

Ah – a special occasion at last, and so to Bo Innovation.

I’d seen this restaurant when it was in Central near the FCC, but the one time I went to go I picked the day after the damn place had shut before moving to Wanchai behind The Pawn.

Then, I saw it on Bourdain and knew I had to go – I hadn’t realised that it was all this molecular stuff that Demon Chef was up to, and for those who put any store by the Michelin guide in HK, this restaurant thoroughly deseves it’s rating. It’s difficult to really pigeon-hole this restaurant.  It’s not Chinese, but I wouldn’t class it as fusion either. It’s just really unusual and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Bo Innovation

Sat at the chef’s table and had the tasting menu, the stand-outs for me were:

Uni with dan dan noodles.  Really, really good, and the uni was super fresh.

Toro with foie gras powder and freeze dried raspberry – this really is a piece de resistance the toro was just melt in your mouth stuff, and then the foie gras powder added another rich rounded taste, coupled with the lovely berry tartness from the raspberry.  Don’t knock it til you try it.  Sublime.

Peat Shoot Cappucino with “har mi” crouton.  Just really sweet and lovely

causticcandy_bo_innovation

Molecular xiao long bao and lap mei fan.  The xiao long bao was so clever.  A little bubble of stock that tasted just like the dim sum should.

Cod with black bean, honey and pickled bak choy: The quality of the cod was fantastic.  The best black cod I’ve ever had (BH agreed)

Duck char siu, with foie gras.  Again super quality ingredients, amazingly tasty.

Wagyu fat choi hotpot:  this was wagyu beef cheek, done like a true french pot au feu, breathtakingly simple with the clearest of stock, the sweetest of veg beautifully al dente and the fat in the cheek had turned to jelly which made it positively orgasmic.  Truly a masterpiece.

causticcandy_bo_innovation1

Dessert – had 3 or four little deserts  - all fun/molecular and tiny.

So basically 8 out of the 10 courses were stella, and the other couple were still very good.

We washed all this down with a bottle of pink Ruinart champagne which surprisingly worked really well with the entire menu, give it a go.

Price: Dinner was $1080 each for the menu so with champagne, service and tip I spent exactly $4000.  Worth every penny, would go once a week if I had the cash.

Ambience: fantastic experience sitting chatting to Demon Chef and his workers, great space with high roof and an outside terrace.  Upbeat vibe because the kitchen is open and people are excited about the food.

Location: 2F, J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wanchai (same building as The Pawn and Ovo Lounge, but entrance round the corner). Website

If you are a foodie you have to go to this restaurant – no other home grown Hongkee chef is doing this in the territory.